Fairfax plots sale of regional papers

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 9 August 2016

Fairfax Media is said to have held talks about the possible sale of its regional media business, The Australian is reporting.

According to the News Corp owned paper, Fairfax has held meetings over the past few months with US-based Platinum Equity, the firm that owns 70% of directories and advertising business Sensis.

It is not thought that a deal is imminent between the two businesses, rather part of a greater structural shift at Fairfax, which is seeing the publisher firmly focus on its property offering Domain, as well as its digital offering.

This speculation from The Australian comes a day before the publisher is set to hand-down its full-year results.

In its half year earnings, the community media arm of Fairfax reported a 20% drop in revenues to $45.2 million for the six months ended December 2015. Fairfax acquired most of its community titles through a $9 billion merger with Rural Press in 2007.

If Fairfax was to offload its regional assets via its Community Media division it would be the second publisher this year to do so, with APN selling its regional media business ARM, to News Corp in June this year.

At the time of the sale, News Corp Australia executive chairman, Michael Miller, said the 12 daily newspaper including The Sunshine Coast Daily and The Gympie Times, along with the 60 smaller publications in the portfolio reach 1.6 million people across print, online and mobile.

"We look forward to working with ARM team to secure the purchase of these strong newspaper brands in the growing regional centres in Queensland where we currently don't have a presence."

The purchase included the ARM printing facilities that were said to lead to “significant cost and efficiency synergies” through consolidation of production and distribution operations Miller added.

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